AUGUSTA, Maine – Volunteers with Maine Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, together with law enforcement officials, gun owners and gun violence survivors, today delivered thousands of signatures to the Secretary of State, bringing Mainers one step closer to voting for an initiative requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales this November.
The group submitted a total of 85,436 signatures, far more than the 61,123 required to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Voters from every county and all 503 Maine cities and towns signed the petition, and nearly one-third of the total number of signatures were collected in the 2nd Congressional District, demonstrating strong support for the measure throughout the state.
“Over the past three months, more than 200 volunteers have poured their hearts into this effort, and I could not be more proud,” said Jackie Sartoris, of Brunswick, a volunteer with the Maine chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. “But our work has only just begun. Now that we have submitted these thousands of signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, we begin in earnest our campaign to strengthen our gun laws and save lives. Over the next nine months, volunteers from every corner of Maine will work tirelessly to pass this referendum.”
The Maine Background Check Initiative, which is supported by 80 percent of Maine voters, would require criminal background checks for all gun sales in the state, with reasonable exceptions for family, hunting, and self-defense. Under current law, background checks are only required for gun sales conducted by licensed dealers. But people can easily and anonymously buy guns from unlicensed sellers – often from strangers met online, at gun shows or through classified ads – with no background check required, no questions asked. The initiative closes this loophole, requiring that everyone in Maine who buys a gun gets the same criminal background check, no matter where they buy it or who they buy it from.
“My daughter Darien was shot when she was 25, and later died from her injuries – and her murder remains unsolved to this day. Since then, my husband, Wayne, and I have made it our life’s mission to prevent other families from feeling this pain,” said Judi Richardson, a resident of South Portland who, along with her husband, Wayne, serve as a citizen sponsors of the ballot initiative. “No single law can prevent every incident of gun violence, but we owe it to Darien’s legacy – and all Mainers – to do everything we can to prevent future tragedies.”
The measure enjoys strong support from Mainers across the political spectrum, including a majority of gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Law enforcement officers, domestic violence prevention advocates and sportsmen are part of the coalition uniting in support of the common-sense measure, and took part in today’s signature delivery to the Secretary of State in Augusta.
“As a law enforcement officer and as a gun owner, I know we can support the rights of law-abiding gun owners while doing more to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Ed Googins, South Portland Police Chief and a former president of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association. “Criminal background checks are the single most effective way to prevent felons, domestic abusers, people with dangerous mental illness, and other prohibited people from purchasing a firearm. It’s just common sense.”
“As a sportsman, gun owner and Mainer, I’ve spent most of my life working to protect and fully enjoy Maine’s proud sporting tradition,” said Bucky Owens, who served as commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife under Governors John McKernan (R) and Angus King (I). “We have a long and proud tradition of responsible gun ownership here. The initiative being turned in today does nothing to infringe on my Second Amendment rights to own or obtain a firearm, and it is something that sportsmen here in Maine should support so that we can keep our state and our traditions safe and secure.”